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Should Drug Offenders Be Sent to Prison?

A heroin addict has found himself behind bars again after his 270th conviction. David Archer has a record with a staggering 350 offences on it and he has been convicted 270 times for various offences. His latest conviction came after he stole a bottle of alcohol from an Aldi store.

Taxpayers to Foot the Bill

The alcohol stolen by Archer was worth £4.29 but his four-week stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure will cost substantially more than that and it will be paid for by the taxpayer. The taxpayer will also have to pay for Archer’s housing benefit while he is inside so that he can hang on to his flat. This is something that will no doubt rile many people and you would have to wonder if there is another way to treat his constant re-offending. Archer himself has claimed that he wants help and is fed up with the ‘revolving door of prison’.

Drug Addiction

The probation service’s report on Archer said that he regularly came to appointments ‘heavily under the influence’ and would blame others for his problems. His constant offending has caused harm to both large and small retailers and it is consumers who ultimately pay the price. Archer has been a heroin addict on and off for the past thirty years and blames the addiction for his behaviour.

Drug Use and Crime

Drugs and crime seem to go hand in hand for many addicts. When addiction takes hold, the addict will often stop at nothing to get his or her ‘fix’. There are many ways in which drug addicts will end up on the wrong side of the law, including the following:

  • getting arrested for possession of drugs
  • committing crimes that enable them to obtain drugs
  • becoming violent or aggressive towards others and getting arrested for assault
  • committing crimes while under the influence, such as damaging property or causing harm to others through accidents.


While under the influence of drugs, addicts can get into trouble because their judgement is impaired. They may steal to fund their drug habit or they may become violent and aggressive if they cannot get their drug of choice. Many violent offenders have been found to be under the influence of a particular substance while committing crimes. Those who have been imprisoned on drug related offences have usually committed other crimes other than just possession of drugs.

Many wonder if prison is the answer. In the case of Archer, it would appear not to be. There is an argument that the addiction should be treated and the addict should be made to attend a drug rehabilitation programme instead of being incarcerated. When dealing with young addicts and crime, this is especially important. It is better to keep as many young people as possible out of prison, as those who have been in prison once are more likely to continue on a path of crime than those who have never been inside. Re-offending rates are higher after short jail sentences, so it might be better to treat addicts away from prison cells.

Benefits of Treating Addiction

Criminal behaviour affects everyone. When an addict commits a crime, he or she will be arrested and taken to a police station. After this, there will usually be a court hearing and, in certain cases, the addict will be sent to prison depending on the severity of the offence. This all costs the taxpayer money and is something that needs to be addressed. In the case of Archer, spells in prison have not stopped him from re-offending and it would appear as though he needs to break free of his addiction before he can begin to get his life back on track.

Addiction destroys the life of the addict and their families. When addicts turn to crime to fund their habit, there are usually innocent victims hurt by their actions. Rehabilitation of the addict is the way to break this cycle of drug abuse and criminal activity.

Breaking the Drug/Crime Connection

Studies have shown that drug users are responsible for a large number of crimes, including burglary and shoplifting. Many drug users, therefore, will no doubt end up in the criminal system, which is something that needs to be prevented. Breaking the link between drugs and criminal activity is the way forward. Drug addicts need to be helped through a rehabilitation programme and there needs to be emphasis on long-term recovery so that the individual is not tempted to begin using drugs again and resorting to criminal behaviour once more.

As well as beating the actual addiction, recovering addicts need to be helped to integrate back into society, as this is an effective way to prevent a relapse. Not only will the addict benefit but the public will too, as it will help to reduce crime figures. Ensuring that addicts are introduced to rehabilitation programmes before they are faced with a prison sentence will go a long way to ensuring that these people get the help they need before things go too far.

An Illness That Affects Many

Addiction is an illness and the person suffering with it needs to be helped. It is very difficult to recover from a drug addiction without the support of others. Family members of a drug addict will be affected by their behaviour. Seeing a loved one suffering with an addiction is heart breaking to watch, and not being able to help is gut wrenching.

The problem is that many addicts need to hit rock bottom before they will accept help. Family members need to be there for them when they reach that point and reach out to them when they finally admit that they have a problem. This is when an addict will need them the most.

External Help

Addiction is a complex illness and, without treatment, is unlikely to go away. If you are an addict and are ready to get help, the team of expert counsellors at Addiction Helpline are ready to take your call. We have knowledge on all types of addiction and will assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

What that means for you is that we will listen to your story and will offer advice and support. We will explain all about rehabilitation and how it will affect you and your family. We will offer advice on the various treatment options available and will put you in touch with a rehabilitation centre that is right for you.

Help for the Family

If you have a loved one suffering with addiction then please get in touch. We know how hard it can be for an addict to accept that they need help and how tough it can be for the family to watch them. In some instances, an intervention may be that which is required. We can offer advice on how to handle intervention and can even recommend expert intervention specialists who can help. Call us today for free, independent advice.



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